Smart Food Substitutions that Pack More Nutrition

Healthier food substitutions

The holiday season is a time for cooking, baking, food preparation and entertaining. With the holiday season upon us, one way to stay on track is to try finding ways to boost your nutrition amidst all the cookies, cakes and other festive treats that are abundant this time of year.

Smart substitutions can help you reduce calories, fat and sugar while boosting your food’s overall nutritional value. It’s interesting to see how small changes to ingredients and measurements can impact the health benefits of food without greatly changing the taste.

Reduce the Fat

Sources of fat in recipes have many functions. Fat provides flavor to your favorite treats and helps keep them tender. It also increases the total number of calories in the food, which can make weight control difficult. High-fat foods are also linked to an increased risk of heart disease. By reducing the amount of fat or making a healthier swap, you can still enjoy the same flavor with a better nutrition profile.

  • Swap whole milk for 1% or skim milk
  • Choose reduced-fat cheese instead of full-fat
  • Instead of mayonnaise or sour cream, try non-fat Greek yogurt
  • Use cooking spray or sauté in chicken broth instead of oil
  • Try egg whites instead of whole eggs
  • Choose white meat instead of dark meat

Cut the Sugar

Sugar sweetens the foods you are preparing to make things taste great, but they also increase the total calorie count. Additionally, too much sugar can increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Luckily, there are many substitutions you can make to reduce the sugar content of your newest recipe.

  • Substitute unsweetened applesauce for vegetable oil in baking
  • Substitute mashed banana for oil in baking
  • Use soda water instead of juice or soda as a drink mixer
  • Try cinnamon and nutmeg in your coffee instead of sugar

Swap the Carbs

Many people are following a lower-carbohydrate diet – keto, diabetic, etc. If this is the case, the carbohydrates in food can add up quickly. There are easy ways to reduce your carb count, make substitutions and find ways to enjoy your food with fewer carbs. Some of the swaps below can increase the nutritional content of a food by adding nutrient-packed substitutions and cutting empty carbohydrate calories.

  • Try spaghetti squash or zucchini instead of spaghetti noodles
  • Try mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes
  • Slice cucumbers thin instead of crackers
  • Add in vegetables and reduce the amount of pasta and rice in dishes
  • Substitute lettuce leaves for tortillas
  • Add pizza sauce and toppings on a pepper or portabella mushroom

Pack the Nutrition

There are some substitutions and additions that work well by increasing the nutritional benefit of the food as the overall goal. The overall calories, fat and sugar content may be similar, but the overall nutrition content may improve.

  • Try avocado mash on toast instead of butter to get more “good fats”
  • Choose whole grain rice or pasta instead of white rice and pasta to get more fiber
  • Add fruit to your cereal or oatmeal for an extra serving of vitamin C
  • Add walnuts to your salad for some extra Omega 3s

Take some time to find new recipes that will work for you!

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